Do You Have to Give Your Dog a Bath?

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The short answer to this question is yes, of course you need to bathe your dog. The long answer is a little bit more complicated than just a simple yes. Knowing how often to bathe your dog, what products to use when it's bath time and proper bathing techniques can all play a crucial role in your dog’s health. So let’s take a deeper look at this question, so you can keep your furry family member clean and healthy.

When Should You Bathe Your Dog?

There is unfortunately no clear cut answer to this question. There are numerous factors that affect how frequently you should be bathing your dog, including breed, coat, activity level and overall health. Obviously dogs that spend a lot of time outside will need to be bathed much more frequently than a dog that spends most of his life inside. Some hairless or short hair breeds may require bathing as often as once a week, while some other breeds may be able to go several weeks without jumping in the tub.
Generally speaking, if your pet is healthy without any skin allergies that require a normal bathing regimen, you really only need to give your dog a bath if he smells. However, it’s best to work with your vet to develop a set bathing regimen for your pup. Washing too often will damage your dog’s skin, and some breeds require a more regular bath time to live a full, healthy and happy life!

What Kind of Products Should I Use?

First and foremost, do not bathe your dog using any products that are not specifically made for dogs. Using your shampoo or soap can cause significant irritation to his skin. Also, be on the lookout for products that contain selenium or benzoyl peroxide as these chemicals are incredibly harsh on your pup’s skin. You’ll want to focus on finding a hypoallergenic and all-natural shampoo that won’t cause irritation to your dog’s skin or make it dry.
If your pup has sensitive skin or skin allergies, it’s probably a good idea to speak with your vet about a good over the counter shampoo, or it might be necessary to get a prescription or medicated shampoo.
Bathing your dog isn’t just about the shampoo though. Brushing your dog before the bath and after he’s completely dry is a step that most owners seem to overlook. It can help remove excess fur and reduce the build-up of knots and/or matted fur.
If your pup has trouble remaining calm during bath time, you may want to invest in a lick pad. Simply add some peanut butter and attach it to the side of your tub. This will keep your dog distracted and entertained while you focus on giving him a proper bath. Another tool that may help keep him calm is a rubber bath mat to keep him from slipping and sliding once the water starts flowing.

What Kind of Products Should I Use?

Optimal bathing conditions for your dog can be incredibly different compared to what you might enjoy. Normally, we find bathing to be a calming and relaxing experience; however, for a dog, bath time can be anything but calm. Using these tips and tricks can help make your dog’s bath time a bit better for everyone involved.
  1. Water Temperature: Make sure the water is lukewarm for optimal comfort for your pooch.
  2. Don't let the soap soak in: It’s natural to let soap and cleansers soak for a few minutes after getting a lather going. However, it’s best to keep massaging the shampoo into your dog’s fur, as that will make it more effective at removing any built-up dirt or grease.
  3. Water Pressure: If you’re using a handheld shower or faucet head, understand that the volume of the running water in addition to the harsh pressure may upset your dog. Using your hand as a brace against the water pressure is a great way to help your pet stay calm. Instead of the pounding of the water against his skin, all he’ll feel is your gentle touch.
  4. Rinse thoroughly: Double or even triple check that all shampoo has been thoroughly washed out of your dog’s fur. Residue can cause your dog to itch and dry out his skin. You may even want to consider pre-mixing the shampoo with water before applying to your pooch.
  5. Brush regularly: Not only is brushing recommended before and after you bathe your dog, but you should also be brushing your dog regularly in between baths. This can help remove shedding fur, prevent tangles, help minimize that well-known "doggy" smell and remove dirt and/or seeds caught in his fur.